Football Hall of Fame Runningback Gale Sayers Dies at 77

Football Hall of Fame Runningback Gale Sayers Dies at 77

Oliver Gustavson, Writer

US Football Hall of Fame member and former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers passed away from dementia, which he had been battling since 2013, at the age of 77, on Wednesday, September 23.

Sayers was born to Roger and Bernice Ross Sayers in Wichita, Kansas, on May 30, 1943.  Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Roger, who was a gifted collegiate athlete in track and field, Sayers played and excelled on the football team, as well as the track and field teams for Omaha Central High School.  He continued his athletics in college, and was the running back for the University of Kansas.  This was where he earned the nickname “The Kansas Comet”, and set the NCAA Division 1 with a 99-yard run against Nebraska.

Sayers was drafted into the Chicago Bears in 1965, which was the team he remained with for his entire NFL career.  However, despite his success, his professional football career was cut short due to knee injuries at the age of 28 in 1971.  Sayers was inducted into the hall of fame at the age of 34, in 1977.

Determined to succeed in other aspects of life, Sayers returned to KU in 1971 to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education.  Sayers then went on to serve as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1981, and soon afterwards found success as an entrepreneur, founding a sports marketing and public relations firm, then he launched a computer supplies business.  Sayers was eventually inducted into another hall of fame in 1999-the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

When Sayer’s was diagnosed with dementia, his second and final wife, Ardythe Buller, blamed it on extensive head injuries Sayers received during his NFL days, saying that the dementia is a result of “the shaking of the brain when they took him down with the force they play the game in.”  According to Buller, her theory was confirmed by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic.

Gale Sayers was more than just a good football player.  He was a team player and a hard worker whose memory will live on forever.